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Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's recreated tall ship Brig Niagara pulled into port this afternoon and docked at Canalside before hundreds of spectators who lined the Buffalo River to catch a glimpse of the historic vessel.
The event was part of the opening festivities for Navy Week in the Queen City, commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
The two-masted, square-rigged sailing vessel - which incorporates original 1813 timbers in its construction - was the last of five ships to arrive in Buffalo for the event, docking amid fanfare about 2:15 p.m.
"Tall ships have an aura all by themselves," said Jim McCloskey, a City of Tonawanda resident and aficionado of tall ships who made sure he was at Canalside Wednesday with his wife Jan to welcome the Niagara.
The USS Hurricane, a 174-foot patrol ship of the U.S. Navy, arrived earlier after a brief delay Tuesday in Detroit because of mechanical problem. It was docked just past a large 15-star U.S. flag and closer to the river's mouth.
Shortly after the Niagara's arrival, opening ceremonies were officially held with welcoming remarks by Donald A. Alessi, chairman of the board of directors for the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park, Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, a re-enactor playing fourth U.S. President James Madison and Rear Adm. Gregory M. Nosal, commander of the U.S. Navy's Carrier Strike Group Two.
"As you can see, the Navy has landed," Alessi said. "This promises to be the largest and most beneficial week in the 33-year history of the Buffalo Naval and Military Park."
Added Nosal: "Our presence here today speaks to the commitment of the city of Buffalo and to the role Buffalo and the Niagara Frontier had in the War of 1812.
"The bicentennial of the War of 1812 is an opportunity to salute all the sailors and Marines who fought so gallantly in that conflict, who have fought in all the conflicts since then and who are today deployed around the world," he said.
Following the opening ceremony, a cannon blast signaled dozens of local boaters - led by the Edward M. Cotter fireboat - to begin a parade of watercraft down the river.
Other ships, which arrived in town today, include the U.S. Coast Guard's Katmai Bay, a 140-foot icebreaking tug; the USS De Wert Navy frigate and Ville de Quebec, Royal Canadian Navy frigate.

email: tpignataro@buffnews.com